June 30, 2013

Raw Mango Beet Salad


I am getting fresh bunches of beets from our local farm these days. After the beet greens are used, I am left with the fresh beets which is perfect for this is refreshing summer salad. This is a simple salad with beets and raw mango, pepped up with a little bit of peanuts and coconut oil. The sweetness of beets and the strong flavor is normalized by the sour and refreshing flavor of raw mango.

  • Beet root - 1 medium
  • Raw Mango - about 1/4th from a large mango
  • Raw organic peanuts - handful
  • Thai red chilly - 1/2 (since it is really hot, I use only half)
  • Sesame seeds - 1 Tbs.
  • Virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs.
  • Sea salt - as per taste

  • Peel the beet and julienne really thin.
  • Peel mango and julienne really thin as well.
  • Add peanuts and red chilly to a coffee/spice grinder and coarsely grind them. Some chunks of peanuts should remain.
  • Mix the veggies and peanuts and keep them aside for 30 minutes or so.
  • When ready to serve, add salt and melted coconut oil and mix well.
  • Serve topped with sesame seeds.





June 28, 2013

Oat-Almond-Cocoa Truffles (Raw-Vegan)


Again another one to please my son :-) These raw truffles are kid friendly and healthy as well. I have been making nut based truffles for quite a while (we called them as energy balls initially), but my son was not a big fan of them unless it had chocolate in them. So here is one with cocoa, the main ingredients being oats and almonds. 

  • Organic rolled oats - 1 cup
  • Organic raw almonds - 1/2 cup
  • Organic chia seeds - 2 Tbs.
  • Medjool dates - 6
  • Organic raw cocoa powder - 4 Tbs.
  • Raw honey - 2 Tbs.
  • Virgin coconut oil - 2 Tbs.
  • Himalayan salt - a pinch

  • Ground oats and almonds in a dry blender to a coarse powder. If you would like the almonds to be chunky, grind them separately till desired fineness.
  • Grind chia seeds in a coffee/spice grinder. 
  • Process dates and cocoa powder together in blender or food processor (or just with the back of a wooden spoon) till dates are mashed well and cocoa is mixed well.
  • Add everything to a bowl, and mix well so that everything binds well together.
  • Make balls/truffles using your hand. This makes about 24 truffles.



June 27, 2013

Black Rice Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed pepper might be one of the most popular veggie dishes on the internet and in cook books, maybe because of the colors and the fancy look it can bring to the dinner table. That is one of the reasons I like it too, though the more important reason to me is that my son loves bell pepper. He would happily even eat the sliced pieces raw. I usually stuff my peppers with a nutty, veggie stuffing and serve it as a side dish. Today though I was in a mood to make just a single dish, so I decided to use black rice. As it turned out, I made the dish with almost no fat. So I will need to make sure to have our good fat servings in our dessert ;-)
  • Bell peppers - 3 - red/yellow
  • Black rice - 1/2 cup
  • Spinach - 2 cups
  • Red onion - 1
  • Garlic -2-3 cloves
  • Chia seeds - 2 Tbs. (can be substituted with flaxseeds)
  • Homemade tomato-chilly sauce -1/2 cup (see note below)
  • Cook black rice with 1 cup of water using pressure cooker or a saucepan on stovetop. Let it cool a little bit.
  • Meanwhile, chop onion, garlic and spinach really fine.
  • Powder chia seeds using a coffee/spice grinder.
  • Once rice is cooked and cooled a little bit, add the veggies, half of the tomato sauce and chia seed powder. Mix well, add sea salt and pepper if needed. Keep this mixture aside for 5-10 minutes so that chia seed powder absorbs the moisture from the mixture and binds everything together.
  • Cut the peppers in half thru the stem. Scoop out everything from inside to make room for the stuffing. (You can chop this finely and mix this also to your  stuffing along with other veggies)
  • Divide the stuffing into 6 equal parts and fill into of the pepper halves.
  • Drizzle few drops of coconut oil on each and bake filled side up in a 370 degree toaster oven for about 15-20 minutes. Vary the time depending on how crisp or soft you  want the pepper to be.
  • Serve with the remaining half of the tomato sauce.


Homemade tomato-chilly sauce: 
Start cooking quartered tomatoes and red chillies. Cook covered (no need to add any water). Stir occasionally if necessary. Once the liquid is almost completely evaporated (in about 20-30 minutes) add sea salt and coconut palm sugar according to taste and remove from flame. Let it cool down and them grind to a smooth sauce. If I am planning to use tomato sauce for any of my recipes, I plan ahead an make the sauce either that morning or previous night. I have not tried keeping it for more than a day, but should refrigerate well for a few days. Proportions usually depend on how much I need and what am I going to use it for.



June 23, 2013

'Spaghetti' Squash with Wild Rice

Even though I always buy and cook spaghetti squash, I had never thought of actually making 'spaghetti' out of it, till last week. Since it is summer camp time, I have to pack lunches for my son. I don't want him to have a few slices of veggies in between a couple slices of bread -  a.k.a sandwich every afternoon. Like how Michael Pollan mentions in his latest book 'Cooked' the sad state of cooking these days as "Home or away, a sandwich is today the most popular meal in America." I always wanted my son to know and appreciate that there is a whole world of different flavors and textures out there that you can explore and enjoy, while still not loosing the convenience of a packed lunch. This one was sure a big hit with him for last week's lunch box. It is a simple dish (more of a salad) using the natural texture of spaghetti squash and spicing it up a little bit in an Indo-chinese way.


  • Spaghetti squash - 1 medium
  • Wild rice - 1/2 cup (or just use brown rice)
  • Homemade tomato-chilly sauce - 1/2 cup (see note below)
  • Virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs.
  • Garlic - 2 cloves
  • Red pearl onions - 4-5
  • Green peas - 1/2 cup
  • Cauliflower - 1 cup (small florets)
  • Raisins - handful

  • Cut spaghetti squash thru the length into 2 halves. Keep cut side down on a cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes in a 370 degree toaster oven.
  • Take out the squash from the oven and let it cool for about 10-15 minutes. Then scoop out the 'spaghetti' strings.
  • Cook rice with little less than a cup of water. I cook in a pressure cooker, but you can do on stove top as well, just that you need to pay attention. 
  • While the spaghetti is getting ready, and rice is being cooked, you can prepare rest of the ingredients. 
  • Finely chop garlic and pearl onion. Heat coconut oil on medium heat and saute chopped garlic and onion till slightly golden. Transfer to a bowl. 
  • In the same pan add green peas and cauliflower and cook covered. I just let them cook with water within them and cook just enough so that they are nice and crispy.
  • Once everything is ready to go, just toss everything with your homemade tomato-chilly sauce. Add extra salt or pepper as necessary. Keep aside for 15-20 minutes before serving.





Homemade tomato-chilly sauce: 
Start cooking quartered tomatoes and red chillies. Cook covered (no need to add any water). Stir occasionally if necessary. Once the liquid is almost completely evaporated (in about 20-30 minutes) add sea salt and coconut palm sugar according to taste and remove from flame. Let it cool down and them grind to a smooth sauce. If I am planning to use tomato sauce for any of my recipes, I plan ahead an make the sauce either that morning or previous night. I have not tried keeping it for more than a day, but should refrigerate well for a few days. Proportions usually depend on how much I need and what am I going to use it for.

Note: I would recommend everyone to read Michael Pollen's 'Omnivores Dilemma' and all foodies to read 'Cooked', both are very interesting and eye-opening reads.



June 22, 2013

Chocolate Filled Peanut Coconut Barfi

This one is made on special request from my son who loves peanuts. Now who does not like the chocolate and peanut combination. I wanted to make something that he can eat like a treat and still does not compromise on our healthy eating practices. Though I decided to name it barfi, it actually does not involve any 'cooking' or 'thickening' like a conventional barfi. It can be easily put together using wholesome and nutritious raw ingredients. My son loved the addition of the chocolate layer.


For the peanut-coconut layer:

  • Raw organic valencia peanuts - 1 cup
  • Organic shredded dried coconut - 1 cup
  • Medjool Dates - 4
  • Himalayan salt - a pinch


  • Add peanuts and half of the coconut a into a dry blender or food processor and process till everything powdered, add dates and continue processing till everything binds together like a 'dough. 
  • It will take less than a minute in a blender. Food processor might take a little longer.
  • Transfer the 'dough' to a bowl and add the remaining coconut and mix well.
  • Put the dough in between 2 sheets of parchment paper and roll into a big rectangle of about 1/4 inch thickness. Cut the rectangle into 2 halves and keep aside.


For the chocolate layer:

  • Raw organic cacao butter - 1/4 cup *
  • Raw organic cacao powder - 1/4 cup
  • Medjool dates - 4

  • Process everything in a blender or food processor to make your chocolate. (You will have stop and scrape the sides every few seconds to help the blender run with the dry and sticky ingredients).
  • Take out the chocolate and spread over one half of the peanut-coconut sheet. Try to spread as evenly as possible and put the second peanut-coconut sheet on top. Slightly press from all sides. You can keep it refrigerated for about 30 minutes to make it extra firm.
  • Cut into 1 inch squares and enjoy !!



Note:
1. Cocoa butter comes in blocks, I shaved them to small slices and used it.
2. You can substitute virgin coconut oil instead of cocoa butter, might want to adjust quantity a little bit.

Sharing this on Alive & Thrive Thursday

June 21, 2013

Red Quinoa Idli - Fermented version

There is a lot of buzz around probiotics these days. Probiotics in simple terms is good bacteria, which is pro-life. Probiotics are important for your gut health, digestion and improving immunity; to name a few. There are a lot of ways in which you can include probiotics in your food. Probiotics are used across the world by many traditional cultures. Most traditional foods from around the world had their probiotics, just that we might not have thought of them in that manner. Some of the most common foods include yogurt, sauerkraut/kimchi (both are fermented cabbage preparations used across Europe and East Asia), Kefir (used in Eastern Europe and South America), Miso (Fermented Soy used in Japan and east asia), Kombucha (fermented green tea) and a variety of pickles. 

Being from India, I know that the Indian diet has a lot of probiotics as part of our daily diet. First and foremost would be yogurt, which has the good milk culture. From the part where I come from, we use yogurt in a variety of ways. Then there are other foods that are made with naturally fermented batter like the one used for idli or dosa (lentil and rice) and dhokla. I would say that idli is one of the best in that category since it can be made with multiple grains, and it is steamed as well. Besides, it is flexible enough to have for breakfast, lunch or dinner with different sides. It is said that majority of the good bacteria will be lost on heating, but it will still retain the nutrients caused by the fermentation process along with some useful bacteria.





I have posted a recipe for a 'quinoa idli' before, but that was an instant version. This one is a fermented version, which can be made in multiple ways. The one I am sharing here is made with 2 kinds of rice and quinoa in equal proportions.


    • Red Quinoa - 2/3 cup
    • Idli Rice - 2/3 cup
    • Brown rice - 2/3 cup
    • Whole urud - 2/3 cup
    • Fenugreek seeds - 2 Tbs
    • Sea Salt - as per taste

  • Soak rice, quinoa and urud and fenugreek seeds separately for 6-8 hours.
  • Drain urud and fenugreek completely and grind them together sprinkling water every few seconds to make a fluffy batter. You can use a wet grinder or blender. Transfer the batter to a bowl.
  • Now drain rice and grind the same way, you need to add a bit more water for this one. Grind until very fine.  Some people prefer coarse texture for their idlis, so use your judgement here. Add the ground rice to ground urud batter, add salt and mix well.
  • Now drain the quinoa completely and mix in to the batter. Keep the batter in a warm place to ferment. It can take anywhere from 4 -8 hours depending on the room temperature.

Once the batter has fermented well, you can make idlis immediately or keep the batter refrigerated up to 3-4 days. 

Grease idli moulds with a pat of coconut oil. Fill the moulds to about 2/3rd full and steam for about 10 minutes. 





Note: We prefer to keep the quinoa texture as is in our idlis, but you can also grind the quinoa along with rice and make idlis. I can assure you that the quinoa texture adds to the taste and the looks.

Sharing this on Healthy Vegan Friday @Carrieonvegan

June 18, 2013

Turnip 'Noodles' With Roasted Garlic-Pepper Sauce.

We have been exploring new possibilities to make our raw 'noodles' and our latest find is turnip. Turnip has this crispy and juicy texture which makes it perfect for raw eating. A raw sauce or dressing would have been good, but the taste and smell of roasted garlic and pepper was so irresistible that I went with it.

For noodles:

  • Purple turnips - 2 medium
  • Lemon juice - 2 Tbs.
  • EV Olive oil - 1 Tbs.
  • Peel turnips and slice using a spirooli or spiral slicer into thin noodles.
  • Toss with lemon juice and olive oil and keep aside for about 30 minutes or so.

For the sauce:

  • Yellow or orange bell pepper - 1
  • Tomato -1
  • Garlic -2 cloves
  • Red chilly - 1 -2 as per spice level
  • Sea salt as pet taste
  • EV olive oil - 2 Tbs.
  • Cut the bell pepper, tomato and garlic  into big chunks and lay on a cookie sheet and drizzle 1 tsp of olive oil and roast in toaster oven at 370 degree for 10 minutes.
  • Let it cool down a little bit and blend everything along with red chilly, salt and the remaining olive oil to a nice and creamy sauce.
  • Toss the 'noodles' with the sauce and serve with salad greens or sautéed vegetables on the side.

June 12, 2013

Watermelon Rind Pulinkari - Watermelon Rind Cooked in Coconut Tamarind Gravy

Do you throw away the rind after you eat the sweet red part of your watermelon? I never throw them away and find endless possibilities to use them. Here is one... Watermelon rind cooked in coconut tamarind gravy, aka Pulinkari.

Pulinkari is a traditional dish made in a variety of ways in different parts of Kerala. The most common one must be the one with pumpkin. The sweetness from the pumpkin combines well with the hot and spicy gravy. Another common version is made with white pumpkin. Watermelon rind has the texture of white pumpkin and is slightly sweet, perfect for Pulinkari.

I adhere to some basic principles when I cook, like avoiding over cooking the vegetables,  avoiding frying in oil and heating oil in high temperature. I try not to deviate from these guidelines even when I am cooking traditional dishes. I can assure you that the taste is not compromised, while making the dishes healthier. I also love to cook using traditional vessels. This one is cooked in stoneware (Kal-chatty).

Now for the recipe:

  • Watermelon rind - 2 cups - cubed
  • Grated coconut - 1/2 cup
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tspn
  • Channa dal -1 Tbs.
  • Red chilly - 1-2
  • Black pepper - around 10
  • Virgin coconut oil -1 tsp.
  • Tamarind - 1 Tbs. (adjust according to the kind of tamarind - and discard the seeds)
  • Heat coconut oil on medium heat and roast channa dal, add fenugreek seeds, red chillies and black pepper and sauté till the fenugreek seeds are slightly red. Grind everything with coconut, tamarind and around 2 cups of water to make a very fine purée.
  • Add watermelon rind cubes and the ground coconut tamarind purée to a stoneware or a heavy bottom saucepan and simmer on medium heat for 5-10 minutes. Watermelon cubes will still be crunchy and that is the idea.
For optional tempering:
  • Virgin Coconut oil -1 tspn.
  • Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tspn.
  • Chopped red onion - 2Tbs.
  • Heat coconut oil on medium heat, add fenugreek seeds and roast till slightly red. Add chopped onion and sauté till onion is slightly golden. Add this to the gravy.
  • Serve warm with brown rice.

June 8, 2013

Mung Sprouts Khichdi

Growing up in South India, Khichdi is not something that I grew up eating. It is something that I started making after living here in the New England winter. A great thing about raising your family outside your hometown or outside your country is that you get to meet and learn from a lot of different people, their culture, their cuisines (that is what I am more interested in :-)). I had learnt different versions of Khichdi from my north Indian friends and developed my own versions and it has become one of the comfort foods that my son enjoys. Interestingly though, inspiration for this version is not from an Indian, but from someone in Michigan. Aimee @ EatTheRainbow had posted this recipe were the addition of coconut milk caught my attention. I did not add the rice as we usually do in Khichdi, and served it on the side, so that each person can control the amount of rice they want to consume.


  • Mung sprouts - made with 1/2 cup of beans (see notes)
  • Homemade coconut milk - 1 cup (see notes)
  • Tomatoes - 3 
  • Yellow onion - 1 
  • Fresh ginger - 1 inch
  • Garlic - 2-3 cloves
  • Green chillies - 2-3 
  • Virgin coconut oil - 1 Tbs.
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp.
  • Sea salt - as per taste.
  • Chopped cilantro - for garnish

  • Finely chop onion and crush ginger. Quarter tomatoes and run it in your blender along with green chillies to get a chunky puree. 
  • Heat coconut oil on medium heat and add cumin seeds and saute for a few seconds. 
  • Add crushed ginger and garlic and saute for a few seconds taking care not to burn. 
  • Add chopped onion and saute for about a minute or till onion is slightly golden. 
  • Add the tomato puree, turmeric powder and salt and let it simmer for a 1-2 minutes. 
  • Add the sprouts, coconut milk and about a cup of water. Cook covered for 5-6 minutes on medium heat. I cook just enough so that the sprouts are not overcooked and are still slightly crunchy.
  • Garnish with chopped cilantro leaves. Serve warm with red or brown rice on the side. 



Sharing it on Alive & Thrive Thursday

Notes:

How to make Mung sprouts:

  • Day 1- Wash the mung beans and soak them in plenty of water.(12-18 hours)
  • Day 2- Drain off all the water, rinse the beans couple of times and drain all the water completely. Keep the beans in a stainless steel (or any opaque) jar. Cover the jar with a clean cloth and secure it with a rubber band. Repeat the rinsing and draining 1 or preferably 2 times more.



  • Day 3- Same as day 2 - you should start seeing good amount of sprouting today.You could very well start using the sprouts today, but waiting for one more day will give you really long and crunchy sprouts.
  • Day 4- You should see sprouts as long as an inch or more by day 4. Ready to use in your salads or other dishes. 


** If you don't have an opaque jar, just use a glass jar, but make sure to keep away from sunlight.

How to make homemade coconut milk:
  • Dry or fresh coconut meat - 1/2 cup
  • Filtered water - 1 cup.
  • Puree well in a high speed blender and pass thru a cheesecloth or any clean kitchen towel and squeeze well.


June 5, 2013

Veggie Red Quinoa Cakes

For the past few months, we have been buying royal red quinoa instead of the regular white kind. It tastes so much better, I have to say it is really 'royal' :) This recipe is inspired from the quinoa garden cakes from Whole Foods Market. I have made it vegan and gluten free and given it a mild Indian flavor. These baked cakes/patties are packed with a good amount of veggies. I serve it for dinner with a salad on the side. You could make these as smaller bit sized cakes and serve as a snack too. 

  • Red quinoa - 1 cup - soaked for 8-12 hours
  • Homemade brown rice flour - 1/4-1/2 cup
  • Chia seeds - 2 Tbs.
  • Baby spinach - 1 cup
  • Red onion - 1
  • Carrot - 1
  • Fresh ginger - 1 inch
  • Garlic - 2-3 cloves
  • Green chilly - 2-3
  • Cilantro - 3-4 sprigs
  • Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp.
  • Sea salt - as per taste

  • Cook quinoa with 1 cup of water. I cooked in stove top, it took about 5-7 minutes till it was cooked just enough and water was absorbed. Let it cool down.
  • Meanwhile, chop the veggies, green chillies, ginger, garlic and cilantro. Try to chop as fine as you practically can. This will make it easier when you try to bind everything together to make the cakes.
  • Grind the chia seeds using a spice/coffee grinder. Mix it with 1/2 cup of water and let it stand for 3-4 minutes. This is the binder for your cakes. 
  • In a large mixing  bowl, add quinoa, veggies and salt and turmeric. Add 1/4 cup of rice flour to begin. Add the chia seed mixture. Test if you can bind everything to form balls. Add more rice flour if needed.
  • Preheat oven at 400 degrees.
  • Make lemon sized balls out the mix. I made about 20.
  • Place the balls on a baking tray greased with a tsp of coconut oil. Give them a slight press to flatten.
  • Bake for about 15 minutes. Serve with your choice of sauce and salad.


Cucumber-hemp sauce:

  • Cucumber - 1/2
  • Raw hemp seeds - 6 Tbs.
  • Green chilly - 1-2
  • Cilantro - 3-4 sprigs
  • Blend everything together in high speed blender to make a creamy sauce.

Notes:

To make brown rice flour:
  • Soak the rice 6-8 hours.
  • Drain completely and spread in a clean cloth for couple of hours.
  • Grind using a dry blender in batches and pass thru a flour sieve.
  • I cup of rice will make about  2 cups of flour.

June 1, 2013

Sunny Peach Ice-cream

Finally summer is here... time for frozen treats. What better way to welcome summer than  a scoop of freshly made peach ice cream. Inspiration is from 'Peach Cobbler' from Ben & Jerry's, but this version is made with simple, plant based, raw and organic ingredients. You just need a little bit of planning to freeze the fruits and soak the nuts/seeds.

  • Peach - 2 - Sliced and frozen
  • Banana - 1 - well ripened -  Sliced and frozen
  • Raw almonds - a handful
  • Raw cashew nuts - a handful
  • Raw pumpkin seeds - a handful
  • Raisins - a handful (I used hunza raisins)
  • Soak the nuts/seeds/raisins in filtered water for a few hours. Keep refrigerated while soaking so that your ice cream does not melt while making.
  • When ready to make, add the frozen fruits to a high speed blender or food processor. Drain the nuts/seeds/raisins and add it to the blender too. (Reserve the water used for soaking, just in case you need to add a little bit for the blender - I use VitaMix and it runs very well with frozen stuff)
  • Run the blender/food processor, stop and scrape the sides as required. Don't over blend the mix to avoid it becoming a nice smoothie:).
  • Serve immediately and enjoy :)